Sports Spectrum Weekly

Washington Redskins' Josh Norman visited Israel twice to walk 'where Jesus walked'

Like most Christians, Josh Norman says he finds daily value in both prayer and the Bible.

“I’m a believer of Christ,” the Washington Redskins cornerback said recently, according to The Undefeated’s Kelley D. Evans. “I walk in faith, and I try to do the right things and stay away from pitfalls, but we’re humans.”

Yet even with a childhood cloaked in religious influence, most of which stemmed from his father’s role as a Baptist pastor, Norman never experienced something as awe-inspiring as when he walked where Jesus walked. Twice.

The former Carolina Panthers Pro Bowler has touted his faith in God for years. But this year, starting with a trip alongside five other NFL players to Israel after Super Bowl LII, Norman immersed himself in reverence for Jesus unlike ever before. As Evans reported for The Undefeated, the veteran corner appreciated his first trip overseas so much that he went back to Israel in July by himself, touring the Dead Sea and Jerusalem’s Western Wall tunnels among other Old City locations — all to “actually walk to places where Jesus walked.”

“It takes your mind to that place where you are standing where He stood and where He walked,” Norman told Evans. “It was fascinating, mind-blowing in every part about it. It was just an eye-opening experience I will never, ever get back. It’s like that feeling of tranquility. It is just like a misty aura that’s over it.”

The seventh-year veteran felt that “God was speaking to me” to consider “the pilgrimage” to Israel. And while he’s obviously unable to replicate Israel’s surroundings during the season, where his responsibilities are to play a game and guard talents like Odell Beckham Jr., Norman told Evans that he sees a lot of parallels between his faith and football career.

“I feel with faith, you believe, you care, you achieve and we all make mistakes, like sports,” he said. “We’re here for a reason. I don’t have this ability off of a whim — it comes from something. So when you actually go out there and play, you want to give the respect due on which you came from back to Him. So we try to go out and be at our best, and we know we need help, we ask for it, He gives us the strength to go through it, through our abilities that He’s given us.”

Originally a fifth-round draft pick of the Panthers in 2012, Norman spent the first four years of his NFL career in Carolina before signing with Washington. He and the Redskins (5-2), who sit atop the NFC East halfway through the 2018 season, will return to the field on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, his old NFC South rival.

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